These two pieces of research by Dr Ben Matthews provide important insights into Mandatory Reporting of child abuse. The first stems from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Abuse  which was established on 13th Jan 2013 and initiates research programmes from evidence and data generated from the inquiry. The inquiry is in stark contrast to the #CSAInquiry commissioned by the Home Office which can only be desribed as a Blue Peter ‘sticky back plastic’ affair which serves to indicate the unacceptable laissez-faire approach that successive Governments have taken towards the protection of children and vulnerable adults.

 Mandatory reporting laws for child sexual abuse in Australia: A legislative history

Part 4 – ‘learning from overseas’ might be of particular interest. It’s worth considering that at the time of this posting Child Sexual Abuse inquiries are running in England, Wales, Northern Ireland (Hart), Jersey (CI), Australia, and newest is the British Overseas Territory of St Helena for which the chair of the inquiry was announced on 20/11/14 . Scotland also now seems close to announcing an inqury. The common factor is that they all adopted the failed UK child protection framework grounded on ‘discretionary reporting’ and made worse by conferring child protection responsibility on proprietors and Chairs of Trusts whilst being unable to hold anyone to account through the law. Australia, and most other Commonwealth countries, then decided the system didn’t work and moved to Mandatory Reporting designed by each State / country. The Australian inquiry is mostly, but not exclusively, into the time period when the UK’s ‘discretionary reporting’ regime was the default in that country.

The second piece of research is also from Dr Matthews and titled:

Mandatory Reporting Laws and Identification of Child Abuse and Neglect: Consideration of Differential Maltreatment Types, and a Cross-Jurisdictional Analysis of Child Sexual Abuse Reports. 

Of particular interest will be para 4.1 (P471) and onwards, which contains a comparison between non-mandatory Ireland (in 2013 it converted to Mandatory Reporting having also until then,  adopted a variety of the failed UK model which permitted children to be failed in such numbers) and the State of Victoria in Australia which, like all other States in Australia, now has mandatory reporting. These are non-uniform, State by State laws.

Part of its conclusion highlights the essential requirement for effective and enhanced triage. This very point has been part of the Mandate Now proposal for #MRCA for years. We are keen to ensure that only those that need the services of other agencies (social services and police) are referred. The LADO is performing part of this function already and the rôle provides an ideal foundation for its further development.